Durable metal construction
Lighter in weight than ceramic kamados
Exterior stays surprisingly cool
Smoking accessories not included
Heat control takes practice
The Char-Griller AKORN Kamado Charcoal Grill has an insulated steel body that holds the heat in for long cooking or smoking sessions. It can also attain the high heat needed for grilling steaks or burgers. We cooked lunches and dinners on this popular product, feeding neighbors and friends, to test its abilities. Is a metal kamado grill as good as a ceramic one? We’ve got the answer.
Performance: Holds the heat
The Char-Griller instructions explained how to build a fire for either low- or high-heat cooking and included diagrams for setting the two vents. They also warned that if the temperature gets too far above the desired level, it can take time to cool down, so it’s important to monitor the temperature while the grill heats up. Because of the excellent insulation, temporary changes in the weather didn’t cause noticeable fluctuations in the interior temperature. Once the grill’s temperature stabilized, we found that it stayed remarkably consistent throughout the cooking time.
Take a peek at our guide to the best charcoal grills you can buy today.
Design: Looks good in the yard
Like most kamado grills, the Char-Griller AKORN is egg-shaped with a hinged lid and cooking grates. But unlike traditional kamados, it features a porcelain-coated steel body rather than a ceramic one.
We received a gray grill to test, but this model is also available in blue or red, if you prefer a splash of color. The bumpy metal exterior doesn’t show smudges, which are inevitable when cooking outdoors, and the double-walled construction kept the exterior cool enough to touch so the grill is safe when kids or pets are playing in the yard.
The double-walled construction kept the exterior cool enough to touch so the grill is safe when kids or pets are playing in the yard.
The firebox is a separate piece that keeps the flames away from the body of the grill. The removable warming rack was perfect for warming buns; we were able to rotate it out of the way when fussing with food on the grill. Folding side shelves offer convenient prep space (as well as hooks for hanging utensils), while wheels allow for more mobility. We loved that a squishy gasket protects the bottom edge of the grill’s heavy top. It seals the grill well when the lid is closed, and it makes closing gentle and quiet.
Setup Process: Step-by-step, easy peasy
The shipping weight of this grill is over 100 pounds, but once the box was unpacked, the separate pieces were easy to handle. Most of the instructions were very clear with both text instructions and drawings. Even better, a blister pack with all of the smaller pieces was clearly marked on the front and back, so it was easy to choose the proper bolts or washers without trying to compare them to the drawings. Plus, the company used the actual names of the items, so if a piece was missing it would have been easy to find at a hardware store.
Once the grill’s temperature stabilized, we found that it stayed remarkably consistent throughout the cooking time.
The entire assembly process took about an hour. The only glitch we encountered was the instruction to put the washer, cotter pin, and hub cap on the axle before attaching the wheel. We realized that was wrong and referred to the drawing to get it right.
Once assembled, the grill feels substantial, but the wheels make it nearly effortless to move on a smooth surface. It’s even easy to push across a bumpy lawn. The back wheel has a locking caster to keep it from moving once you’ve found the perfect place.
Before actually cooking, the cast iron cooking grates need to be seasoned. It’s not a difficult process, but it means you can’t start cooking immediately. We noticed that the seasoning improved a lot as we cooked with the grill over and over, and the grates became more and more nonstick.
Read through our guide to the best grilling accessories.
Cleaning: Incredibly easy
Not only did the nonstick seasoning release our food easily, but it also made the grates easy to clean after we were done grilling. The removable ash pan at the bottom of the grill also helped streamline the cleanup process. Not only is it super simple to dispose of ash after cooking, but with the pan removed the interior of the grill can be washed or hosed down; the water simply flows out of the bottom of the grill.
Other: No smoking accessories
While this product is billed as a grill and smoker, the smoking setup instructions required the use of accessories that were not included with the grill. While we were able to substitute a deep dish pizza pan for the not-included drip pan, we decided to purchase the smoking stone that acts as a heat diffuser and holds the drip pan below the cooking grate.
Check out our best smokers article.
Price: Affordable but not cheaply made
With an MSRP of $329, this grill is less expensive than ceramic kamado grills from well-known brands. While metal is less traditional, the insulation was impressive, and the lighter weight makes this much more portable. Also, if this grill gets accidentally tipped or dropped, the metal might scratch or dent, but it won’t crack or break the way a ceramic grill might.
Char-Griller AKORN vs. Kamado Joe Classic II
The price difference between the Char-Griller AKORN Kamado Charcoal Grill and the Kamado Joe Classic II is more than significant, with the Joe costing over three times as much as the Char-Griller. While it’s often true that you get what you pay for, the vents, thermometers, and side tables of these machines are really quite similar.
While this product is billed as a grill and smoker, the smoking setup instructions required the use of accessories that were not included with the grill.
The Char-Griller has two large wheels and one locking caster, so it’s stable on uneven surfaces, while the Joe has four casters with two that lock. The Char-Griller has a cast iron grate with a removable center and a detachable warming rack. Meanwhile, the Joe has the “Divide and Conquer” cooking system, a feature allows you to cook different foods at different temperatures.
We like the large removable ash catcher on the Char-Griller better than the Joe’s pull-out tray. The major difference, though, is ceramic versus metal. While ceramic is traditional, we were perfectly happy with the lighter weight of the Char-Griller. If your heart is set on a ceramic kamado, the Kamado Joe is certainly worth looking at, but if price is more important, the Char-Griller is the clear winner.
Need some more help finding what you're looking for? Read through our best kamado grills article.
Aside from the lack of the smoking stone, we were enamored with this grill and smoker.
The ease of moving it was a pleasant surprise, as was the excellent insulation. The manual’s diagram of vent positions for heat regulation was very helpful. Cooking on the seasoned cast iron grates was a pleasure, and the fact that it works equally well as a high-heat grill and as a low-temperature smoker makes it worth the space it takes in the yard.
- Product Name AKORN Kamado Charcoal Grill
- Product Brand Char-Griller
- SKU E16620
- Price $329
- Color Black, Blue, or Red
- Material Cast iron grill grate, porcelain-coated steel body
- Warranty 1 year on defective parts; 5-year burn-through and rust-through
- What’s Included Hooked tool for removing cooking grates